May 19, 2020

9th Circuit Revives Church's Lawsuit Against California for Requiring Health Plans to Cover Abortion

California State Capitol
Photo Credit: Mathieu Thouvenin / Flickr
A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided on May 13th to have a lower court rehear Skyline Wesleyan Church v. California Department of Managed Health Care.

This decision contradict's the lower court's previous decision against the church; requiring it to continue including abortion coverage in its health plans. Many argue the requirement is unconstitutional, and California has no right to require churches to include abortion coverage in their health plans. Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights warned the state of California that the federal government could withhold funding if California didn't "stop forcing people of good will to subsidize the taking of human life."

Here are notable excerpts from the 9th Circuit's decision:

"We hold that Skyline’s claim under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is justiciable. But we decline to exercise our discretion to reach the merits in the first instance and therefore remand to the district court for further proceedings... We hold that Skyline has suffered an injury in fact. Before the Letters were sent, Skyline had insurance that excluded abortion coverage in a way that was consistent with its religious beliefs. After the Letters were sent, Skyline did not have that coverage, and it has presented evidence that its new coverage violated its religious beliefs. There is nothing hypothetical about the situation."

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